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Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

May 28, 2011 to June 10, 2011

Join us for an adventure in Bahir Dar on the shores of beautiful Lake Tana, home to ancient cultures and the origin of the Blue Nile River.


A typical shack made of scrap metal and wood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia country profile

About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of dramatic variations—from lush mountain highlands to low-lying deserts to one of the highest peaks on the African continent. The Nile River winds its way through the country in the Horn of Africa before flowing to the Mediterranean Sea. Ethiopia’s Rift Valley has even been called the “cradle of mankind” due to the discoveries of large numbers of hominid fossils there.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia is also one of the poorest countries in the world with the majority of its population leading destitute lives and living in poverty housing. A recent United Nations survey ranked the country No. 169 (out of 175) in quality of life. Ethiopia’s problems are mainly attributed to frequent famine, civil conflicts, political turmoil and foreign aggression.

About Bahir Dar
Habitat started to build in Bahir Dar in 2008. The city is located in northwestern Ethiopia, and serves as the capital of the Amhara region. It is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. The city offers a small daily market and an extensive weekly market, and there are music clubs in the city. The Blue Nile Falls (Tis Abay) are located about 30 kilometers to the south.

About Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia
Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia began construction in 1993 and has since expanded to build houses in 11 communities. HFHE has attempted to integrate its operations with those of community-based organizations, in order to be more effective in its work.

There is a great need for simple, decent and affordable housing in Ethiopia. HFHE defines substandard housing as a home with dirt floors, leaking roof, breaking chika, no windows and doors and lack of sanitation. A staggering 90 percent of the population has no access to decent sanitation facilities, and 73 percent of the population does not have safe drinking water, causing disease to run rampant.

Types of construction for volunteers
Your participation is vital to HFHE’s ministry. Volunteer manual labor helps the national program to reduce house costs by 10–20 percent for partner families. Typical work for a GV team may include mixing mortar and concrete; carrying construction materials; fixing chicken wires; digging foundations; making bricks; carrying water and more.

HFHE’s houses vary from 22 to 36 square meters and are built from a number of different materials, including stabilized soil blocks, hollow concrete blocks and fired bricks. HFHE also constructs improved traditional style chika houses, which are built mostly of wood, soil, sand and stone. All houses have a latrine in a separate block and are built in such a manner that families can add further rooms in the future.

Standard itinerary
(14-day itinerary)

Day 1(typically Saturday)
: Depart home country.
Day 2 (Sunday)
: Arrive in Addis Ababa; dinner and overnight in Addis Ababa.
Day 3 (Monday)
: Breakfast at hotel; travel to host project site; welcome and orientation with local staff and dinner with homeowner families.
Days 4–8 (Tuesday–Saturday)
: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site; free time in the evenings; dinner; team activities.
Day 9 (Sunday)
: Visit a local church and enjoy other cultural activities.
Days 10–12 (Monday–Wednesday)
: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. with lunch on site; free time in the evenings; dinner; team activities. Farewell celebration on Day 12 with homeowner families.
Day 13 (Thursday)
: Travel to Addis Ababa; free time; dinner and overnight.
Day 14 (Friday)
: Depart for home.

Note: There will be other opportunities for cultural activities in the evenings during free time and during days off.

Teams will stay in a hotel throughout their stay. Rooms are double beds with full baths. All three meals and bottled water will be provided each day.

Trip cost
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village trip cost.)

Team leader
Lisa and Steffan Hacker are newlyweds (aww!), having been married in September 2010. While new to the marriage game, they are GV veterans. They have co-led two previous trips—one to Mongolia (September 2009) and one to Malaysia (July 2007). Steffan has also led a trip to New Zealand (September 2005).

Lisa and Steffan both work at Habitat’s international headquarters, Lisa as a marketing specialist and Steffan as a staff photographer. They are looking forward to meeting more adventurous volunteers, seeing a new part of the world and getting their hands dirty!

For more information about this GV trip to Ethiopia, contact Lisa and Steffan at

To apply for a GV trip, please follow the Application Instructions.

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